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15 Things to do with the Family at Malabar Farm State Park

Tonya Prater, Owner

Malabar Farm State Park, located near Mansfield, Ohio, is a popular outdoor destination to hike, ride horses, fish, and watch the sunset from Mt. Jeez.

Malabar Farm was home to Pulitzer Prize winner, Louis Bromfield and has been a historic landmark since 1939. Bromfield built his 32-room home, named the “Big House”, in the gently rolling hills of the Pleasant Valley in Richland County, just south of Mansfield.

Spring wildflowers at Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield, Ohio.

Not only was Bromfield a notable author, but he was also known as a conservationist. Many of the farming techniques he practiced to produce rich, fertile soil are still practiced today on this working farm.

Taking a walk through the woods at Malabar Farm State Park finding fungi.

Malabar Farm State Park has long been a favorite destination for my family. My kids have grown up petting the miniature horse that used to be in the barn, feeding the hens in the chicken yard, and attending the annual Maple Syrup Festival and Fall Heritage Days, festivals that draw visitors from all over the state.

Enjoying a walk through the woods at Malabar Farm State Park.

Malabar Farm still holds its appeal, even though my little ones have now grown into adults, my oldest son now visits with children of his own. When my kids were teenagers and young adults, they especially enjoyed hiking the trails and watching the sunset from the Mt. Jeez overlook. A word to the wise, if you plan to watch the sunset from that popular spot, plan to arrive plenty early to stake out a spot on the lawn. It can get crowded.

Here are 15 things to do at Malabar Farm State Park that you can do whether you are visiting for the first time or fortieth.

15 Things to Do with the Family at Malabar Farm State Park

Hiking at Malabar Farm

1. Visit the newly renovated and interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center to learn about farming, local wildlife, and the sustainability practices implemented at Malabar Farm State Park.

2. Attend a festival.

In addition to the popular Maple Syrup Festival and Heritage Days that I already mentioned, Malabar Farm is home to several more popular events. For a full list, visit their website

3. Follow the Shawshank Trail.

The opening scene of the movie was filmed at Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm State Park. This popular day use cabin can be reserved for baby and bridal showers, family reunions and more.  

4. Take a hike.

Malabar Farm has 12 miles of trails for hiking or horseback riding. Our favorite trail is the Butternut Trail, an easy hike leading to a small cave that you can walk through. The cool temperatures inside the cave feel wonderful on a hot summer day.

5. Tour the 32-room Big House.

This is the home where Louis Bromfield penned some of his many books and welcomed Hollywood sweethearts, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart who wed at the base of his grand staircase. The tour is fascinating any time of the year but make a note on your calendar to visit during the Christmas season when the home is decked out in Christmas decor.

6. Go stargazing.

7. Spend the night camping in the primitive campground.

8. Go fishing.

9. Grab your skis and head out for some cross-country skiing. 

10. Search for or hide a geocache. This is easy to do with the free geocaching apps

11. Visit the highest point on the farm at Mt. Jeez Overlook, which is especially scenic during the fall.

12. Pack a picnic lunch and eat at one of the picnic areas. 

13. Shop in the unique store in the Visitor Center for a souvenir or make your own at the pressed penny machine. 

14. Grab your camera and set out on foot to get some photographs. 

15. Take a wagon ride around the property.

Learn about the history of the farm and see how the forward-thinking and sustainable farming practices of Louis Bromfield have been implemented and how they affect Malabar Farm.

Hiking to the cave in Malabar Farm State Park

Tips for Visiting Malabar Farm State Park

Don’t be surprised if you lose your cell signal when visiting Malabar Farm State Park or when exploring the surrounding area. I have Verizon and my coverage runs from non-existent to spotty. 

Depending on your interest level, you can spend less than an hour to all day in the park. My family typically spends an hour and a half if we’re stopping by for a quick hike. 

To make the most of your visit, peruse the Malabar Farm State Park website before arriving or call ahead (see below) to inquire about daily tours. I suggest starting in the Visitor Center, opting for either a house tour or farm tour, taking a hike on the Butternut Trail, and taking in the sunset from the top of Mt. Jeez. 

To make your day really special, book a stay in one of the treehouses at The Mohicans which are about 35 minutes away. You can wake up and enjoy the next day hiking at nearby Mohican State Park

The view from Mount Jeez

Visitors Information

Address: 4050 Bromfield Road Lucas, Ohio 44843

Phone: 419-892-2784

Cost: Entrance to the park is free but there is a fee to tour the home and to take a wagon tour.

For a detailed list of hours visit the website:

Springtime at Malabar Farm

The Big House at Malabar Farm State Park and one of the many hiking trails.

More Posts on the Area

Mohican State Park

Pleasant Hill Lake

Gorman Nature Center

Kingwood Center

Historic Ohio State Reformatory

Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve

More State Park Posts

Hike the Pleasant Hill Trail at Ohio’s Mohican State Park

Finding Bigfoot at Salt Fork State Park during Creature Weekend

Hike the Discovery Trail at Mohican-Memorial State Park Forest

Helpful Items for your Malabar Farm State Park Visit

15 Things to do with the Family at Malabar Farm State Park, from hiking to home tours to exploring a cave. There's plenty for all ages at Malabar Farm State Park.


Wednesday 28th of May 2014

need information about horseback riding in Malabar inself or nearby places to go horseback riding. please include prices, etc. if available. can't seem to locate any via websites. thank you gary lee


Wednesday 28th of May 2014

Hi Gary,

I'm sorry, but I don't have the answers you're looking for. You can call Malabar Farm and ask if they have someone who can provide horses to the park. Here's the number: 419-892-2784.

You may also want to try or call 419-589-5161. It looks like they offer trail rides near the Mohican area.


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Count me in as another one who has long had this place on my list of places I want to visit. I've missed the opportunity twice to's hoping the third time will be a charm :)


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

I should have mentioned that the Pugh Cabin, also at Malabar Farm, is on the Shawshank Trail. If you enjoyed the movie, you may want to keep an eye on events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of the movie this fall in and around Mansfield. That may be a good time for you to visit. I'm excited to see what special events they'll have to commemorate the movie.

Terri @ Travel 50 States with Kids

Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

This has long been on my list of places I want to go, but I still haven't made it yet. Great list!


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Terri, make sure you touch base with me if you head this way. We actually live near Malabar Farm and I'd be happy to show you around the area or give you ideas of other places to see.


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

Okay, I think I would really love square dancing. At least, I remember it very fondly from elementary school PE. Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

My kids love square dancing and frequently attend the events with their friends. I have two left feet that have held me back but I'm convinced that this will be the year that I'll at least give square dancing it a try. Protection Status
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